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Supreme Court Considers OLC's Arguments Made by Filed Amicus Brief

For Immediate Release | Oct 13, 2014

Lansing, Michigan - By an order of the Michigan Supreme Court, an amicus brief written and filed by Outside Legal Counsel will be considered by the high court in its upcoming decision regarding Michigan's Open Meetings Act. An amicus brief is a friend of the court brief filed by non-parties to a legal action, who must be given permission from the court.

A copy of the brief may be accessed here from the Michigan Supreme Court website.

On October 8, 2014, the Supreme Court held oral arguments on whether to accept an appeal from a small township in Van Buren County who challenged whether it has to pay the winning side's attorney fees after being found in violation of this sunshine law. OMA provides for an award of "actual attorney fees" if a challenger "succeeds in obtaining relief in the action." Utilizing a complicated and contradictory argument, the township argued that a challenger must obtain 'injunctive' relief before such costs are to be paid by the violating governmental body.

OLC argued that the Court should dismiss the application and adhere to the 30 years of precedence developed by the Michigan Court of Appeals. Moreover, OLC noted that the OMA applies to the Legislature itself and if the Legislature thought the courts had gotten it wrong over the past three decades, the Legislature would have corrected it during the 15 times the law has been amended.

"Open government and the Open Meetings Act represents important rights for the citizens of this state," explains Philip L. Ellison, attorney at Outside Legal Counsel. "Just as local governments expect their laws to be followed, so too must the government follow the simple laws of keeping the political process open, fair, and transparent."

Earlier this year, OLC attorney Philip L. Ellison successfully reversed the decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals at the Michigan Supreme Court. The decision affirmed the right of certain grandparents to seek grandparenting time with the grandchildren.